Since the beginning of time, each and every morning, that sleepy ole sun has peeped over the hills in Conway County, as it wakes the hills and hollers to start a new day.
Clifton Taylor Clowers used to see that morning sunrise each and every morning, as it peeped over the hills of Arkansas. Waking up long before the sunrise, Clifton would be going about his morning chores on his farm on Woolverton Mountain.
Born October 30, 1891, Clifton Clowers would have never dreamed that such a crowd would one day gather on his mountain to honor him.
Before going off to war, Clifton would wake each morning to start his day by feeding his chickens, milking the cow, feeding his beloved mule and then eating his breakfast, before going out to tend to the daily farm needs. Clifton would see the sunrise and the sun set on Woolverton Mountain.
In June 1917, America called on Clifton to defend his great nation, and he answered the call of Uncle Sam. Marching into World War 1 with his head held high and his shoulders squared back for what he would encounter, he defended his country and came back to his beloved mountain to once again greet the morning sun, and in the evenings, to take his hat off and watch the sun set in the western skies of Woolverton Mountain.
Clifton made an impact on many people’s lives that he encountered, one of whom was his young nephew Merle Kilgore.
Clifton loved music, and he loved children. He gave young Merle an old mandolin to keep him occupied while he was visiting. Merle took to the mandolin like a duck to water and soon learned how to play “Home on the Range.”
Young Merle would climb up in an old walnut tree in Clifton’s front yard and spend all day resting, playing “Home on the Range” on the mandolin. Clifton passed his love for music down to Merle, who later went on to write a song named “Clifton Clowers,” that spoke of his uncle and Woolverton Mountain, where Clifton protected his beautiful young daughter from young men who would try to come courting her.
Kilgore pitched the song to country singer Claude King, who liked the song but thought that the song would be a bigger hit if he changed the name, so that it would be considered a mountain song. When King changed the name of the song from “Clifton Clowers” to” Wolverton Mountain,” dropping one of the “o’s,” it became an instant favorite, earning King one of his biggest hit songs ever.
Clifton, his daughter and Woolverton Mountain became so famous that people from all over the world would climb the mountain, as the singer sang about in the last verse. Clifton had visitors from all over the world, as they would come to see him and his beautiful mountain.
Fame never caused Clifton to change his way of living. He continued to cut wood, plow his fields with his mule, be a farmer and love his music.
But, come the cool, crisp morning of Oct. 4, the autumn morning sun will start to creep up over the sleepy hills of Conway County, Arkansas, to bring light on a new sight on the top of historical Woolverton Mountain.
It will be a dawn of a new era on Woolverton Mountain. Volunteers will be stretching, yawing and moving about, as they take on the task of setting up the final things that are needed for the Woolverton Mountain Music Festival. Vendor tents will be going up, the hum of a generator will be heard as it supplies electricity to campers, where volunteers will be stumbling around looking at the sun, as it says “good morning” to each of them.
Coffeepots will be perking that wonderful, hot caffeinated beverage, as the fog starts to burn off from the morning sun. Stagehands will be working to get the stage set up for sound checks. The sound of hammers will be heard as the volunteers start installing the parking signs. Ribbons will be blowing in the morning breeze as the volunteers mark off the parking and VIP sections. The faint sound of a horse nickering will be heard as the trail riders wake and start tending to their horses.
The Woolverton Mountain air will come to life with the smell of festival food starting to be prepared and campers making their breakfasts. Woolverton Mountain will hear the sounds of a Music Festival coming to life to honor one of Woolverton Mountain’s most famous persons.
Clifton Clowers left such a positive influence on so many lives in his 102 years of the country mountain lifestyle. One of the most influential parts that he played was in Merle’s life, and that influence continues to flourish in country music to this day.
It’s a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Clifton and his love for music, and to pass along the love for music to the younger generation.The Woolverton Mountain Music Festival will showcase a mixture of country music featuring performers from various ages and from all over the United States that keep country music alive each time they play and sing.
Woolverton Mountain Music Festival – Oct. 4-5
16 Austin Rd., Clinton
Don Ramsey is an Arkansas entertainment promoter and owner of Porch Swing Promotions, a platform to promote up-and-coming country music artists. Ramsey has organized several live music events in the state, with the Woolverton Mountain Music Festival being the most recent.